Domestic violence and abuse are becoming an epidemic in today’s culture. It is estimated that 38,028,000 women will experience physical intimate partner violence at some point during their lives.
Men can fall victim to abusive relationships as well. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 10 American men have experienced physical violence, stalking, or rape inflicted by a partner. Another 1 in 7 men will be the victims of severe physical abuse at the hand of a romantic partner.
Whether the perpetrator is male or female, studies show that abusers often share the same traits of aggression, mood swings, no self-control, severe jealousy, and high rates of suspicion.
Are you or someone you know experiencing domestic violence and abuse? Here are 5 sobering facts about abusive relationships and what you can do to help.
5 Truths About Domestic Violence
TRUTH #1. It’s More Common Than We Think
Many people have a caricatured version of who they believe to be in an abusive relationship and that the abusive is obvious. That one spouse will be constantly yelling at their partner, or that bruises or other signs of physical abuse are apparent.
Perhaps they believe people in abusive relationships are from a lower socioeconomic background. But this simply isn’t true.
One sad truth about domestic violence and abuse is that they are much more common than one might think. It happens to children, teenagers, and adults, with nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experiencing physical abuse from a romantic partner each and every year.
It is estimated that 11,766 American women are killed every year by their husbands or boyfriends, which is more than the war in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.
Abusive relationships are common and it’s time to shed some light on the truth.
TRUTH #2. Your Spouse Becomes Extremely Possessive and Controlling
As mentioned at the onset, jealousy is a common trait of abusive relationships. Partners seek to control their spouse to prevent them from cheating. Abusers may use the following tactics to control their spouse:
- Isolating spouse from friends and family in fear that close associates will help the victim leave the toxic relationship.
- Threatening self-harm if a partner says they are ending the relationship
- Resorting to physical violence to prevent a partner from socializing
- Forcing a partner to quit their job so that they are financially reliant on the abuser
Such behavior can be traumatizing to the victim. It is estimated that 81% of women experiencing stalking, physical violence, or rape by an intimate partner will end up being injured physically or will develop some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.
TRUTH #3. Abuse is More than Physical Violence
Physical abuse is clear to define. It occurs when one partner acts violently toward the other. Slapping, kicking, grabbing, pushing, beating, or using a weapon against a partner is clear-cut, unacceptable behavior.
But one truth about abusive relationships is that abuse hardly ends with physical violence.
Emotional abuse is a common method of control done by an abuser. Emotional abuse can take the form of insults, demeaning speech, making a partner feel crazy or stupid, bipolar mood swings, blaming a partner for poor behavior, and using religion or guilt to force a partner to stay.
Statistics show that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime. This is a facet of an abusive relationship.
Sexual abuse is marked by any unwanted sexual advances or forced intercourse. Sexual control is another form of abuse, perhaps making a partner watch adult films or participate in sexual acts they are uncomfortable with. Refusing to allow a partner to practice safe sex or sexually humiliating or degrading a partner also fall under sexual abuse.
Domestic violence and abuse can also involve withholding food, shelter, and finances from a spouse.
TRUTH #4. Not all Abusive Relationships are Obvious
While it’s true that some abusers may be negative, controlling, uncaring people, many have positive qualities that draw victims in.
Abusers are commonly charming, loving individuals who will apologize for their bad behavior only to repeat it time and again. In some cases, the abuse may not start for some time. It may even be years. An abusive relationship may start off as loving and wonderful as the start of any normal relationship. This is what makes abusers so hard to spot.
TRUTH #5. Leaving Is Hard
Often, when one hears the intimate details of an abusive relationship they will ask “Why didn’t he/she just leave?”
The truth is, abusers, do not make it easy for their partners to leave the relationship. They have physically or mentally beaten down the victim until their self-esteem is nonexistent.
A spouse may feel they are not capable of leaving. Their abuser has told them that this is the best they will ever be able to do in life or may withhold finances, their children, or other provisions to prevent a separation from occurring.
It is also common for an abuser to enter a honeymoon phase after abuse has occurred. They may be on their best behavior for a time, apologizing to the wounded spouse and promising to change their ways.
A victim’s forgiving nature or love for their spouse may compel them to stay and help their partner.
Research indicates that a victim will attempt to leave an abusive relationship 7 times before leaving for good.
Leaving an abusive situation can be very dangerous, especially for women, with most violence and deaths occurring during an attempt to leave.
Visit the Domestic Violence Intervention Program for an extensive checklist for leaving an abusive relationship in the safest way possible.
Has your relationship turned toxic? It may be in your best interest to consider separation in marriage. Put the safety of you or your children first by getting out of an aggressive and unhealthy home. If you need help getting out of an abusive situation, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or text 1-800-787-3224